Tag Archives: 1975

A smaller Christmas, Day 11

Last night was the winter choir concert at Green Bay East High School. Our son Evan, a senior, sings bass in the concert and chamber choirs.

Each year, the concert closes with “Carol of the Bells.”

It’s a tradition at East for the choir alumni to join the combined choirs on stage for the final number, so you’re seeing them along with the Red Devil Chorale, Belles Voix, Concert Choir and Chamber Singers.

“Carol of the Bells” is a work built around “Shchedryk,” a traditional Ukrainian folk chant. Music was added more than 100 years ago, and lyrics added in the 1930s. Though often sung during the Christmas season, it’s actually a New Year’s carol. A variation dating to the late ’40s is known as “Ring, Christmas Bells.”

Here’s a folk guitar version that matches the elegance of the East singers’ performance.

johnfaheyxmasvolIIlp

“Carol of the Bells,” John Fahey with Richard Ruskin, from “Christmas With John Fahey, Vol. II,” 1975. It’s out of print as such. However, all but one cut from that LP is available on the CD version of “The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album,” his great 1968 Christmas album. Also available digitally.


John Fahey’s music has been a part of our Christmases seemingly forever. I believe I bought “A New Possibility” in the early ’80s, most likely on a tip from Mike, the laid-back gent who ran — and still runs — Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin. I don’t know how I otherwise would have found out about an obscure Christmas record from 1968.

Or one from 1975, the year I was a senior in high school.

Your Christmas music requests in the comments, please.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2012, Sounds

What’s that in your pocket?

America’s pent-up passion for football is about to explode.

You feel it every day when you live in the shadow of Lambeau Field. You feel it this weekend as college football starts. Some of it remains simply a love of the game. But not much.

That passion for football, be it the NFL or college football, is increasingly driven by equal parts marketing, gambling and fantasy leagues. Even the TV and radio talking heads are geeked up.

Is that a microphone in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

This week, we’re getting our close-up. Right here in the shadow of Lambeau Field, it’s the NFL Kickoff Weekend, starring Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5! Oooh, Matt Lauer and Al Roker will be live from here, too! Oooh, Jay Leno is going to talk about us in his monologue!

It is, in the eyes of one David Fantle, the deputy secretary of tourism in Wisconsin, “almost like a mini-Super Bowl.” Then he added:

“It’s invaluable. It’s the kind of exposure you can’t buy
— or you can’t afford to buy.”

Is that a brat in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

I wonder what Vince Lombardi would think of all this. His teams won championships, then opened the next season with little more than a baton twirler and a marching band. That was a different time, of course.

I also wonder what George Carlin would think of all this.

“Baseball-Football,” George Carlin, from “An Evening With Wally Londo Featuring Bill Slaszo,” 1975.


Baseball isn’t so innocent anymore, either, but Carlin’s take still goes a long way toward exposing the absurdity of what we’re seeing this week. That this was spoken in March 1975 and still holds true is testament to Carlin’s genius.

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Filed under September 2011, Sounds

Jerry’s basement

Explosions have rocked our basement this summer.

Our rec room, of course, is where our 16-year-old son and his pals gather to play video games and watch Netflix.

There is an old 26-inch TV to which the Xbox is attached. The old stereo components are still there, too. A turntable, a CD player, a receiver and two small but nice speakers, all dating to the early ’90s. One day, our son found out that the TV was hooked up to the stereo system. If you turn on the receiver while playing video games, the explosions blast through the speakers.

It was not all that different in Jerry’s basement in the summer in the mid-’70s.

We didn’t have video games, of course. We had APBA, a table-top baseball game with cards and dice. There were three, four, five, sometimes six of us. We played in the afternoon, went home for supper and at times resumed at night.

Fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Jerry also had a stereo. If memory serves, it was one of those old compact stereos from which the turntable dropped down and the speakers swung out. We cranked up the volume as best we could, but there were no explosions.

Jerry didn’t have many records — none of us did then — but we often played most of what he had. So much so that I remember most of those records to this day, more than 35 years on. They included:

“Montrose” by Montrose (1973). We were listening to Sammy Hagar before he was Sammy Hagar.

“Desolation Boulevard” by the Sweet (1974). Try as I might, I can’t remember hearing the original version of “A.C.D.C.,” which Joan Jett has so memorably covered.

“Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin (1975). I wasn’t much of a Led Zep fan, but I loved “Boogie With Stu.” Still do. Last summer, one of my son’s pals — a guitar player — said he’d love to get a copy of this record. You should have seen his face when I handed him the vintage vinyl a couple of weeks later.

“16 Greatest Hits” by Steppenwolf (1973). This, for us, was classic rock. I really didn’t dig them much at the time. Neither did our JV basketball coach.

“The Adventures of Panama Red” by the New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973). Um, so, yeah.

“That Nigger’s Crazy,” by Richard Pryor (1974). Hugely influential in honing our collective sense of humor, which at the time also was being shaped by the National Lampoon (the magazine and the radio show), Cheech and Chong, George Carlin, Monty Python and Johnny Carson.

Again, fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Hey, we were 16. It was 1973. Here are some more sophisticated artists we weren’t digging in Jerry’s basement. If we knew then what we know now …

“Dirty Ol’ Man,” the Three Degrees, from “The Three Degrees,” 1973. This was their first studio album. It’s full of Gamble and Huff’s great Philly soul. This is a great tune that was bigger in Europe than in the States.


“Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” Barry White, from “I’ve Got So Much To Give,” 1973. This was his first album. There was a time before everyone knew Barry White was synonymous with seduction. This was that time. (This edited version of this Four Tops cover is from “Barry White’s Greatest Hits,” 1975. The original LP version which runs longer.)


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Filed under August 2011, Sounds

Red, white and blue revisited

As we did last year, we’re dishing up some music for your Fourth of July party.

We have some red, some white, some blue, the makings for a fine gathering. However, you still won’t find any Greenwood, if you know what I mean.

Red.

You’ll need a little something to eat and a little something to wash it down.

“Red Beans,” Marcia Ball, from “Blue House,” 1994.


“Red Red Wine,” Neil Diamond, 1967, from “Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits,” 1968. That’s long out of print, but the song is on “Neil Diamond: The Bang Years, 1966-1968,” released earlier this year.


White.

Then you’ll need to chill.

“Ice Cream Man” and “Back Porch Therapy,” Tony Joe White, from “The Heroines,” 2004. It’s out of print but is available digitally.



Blue.

Before enjoying a nightcap or two.

“Martini 5-0,” the Blue Hawaiians, from “Sway,” 1998. It’s out of print and apparently not available digitally.


“A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” Dave Edmunds, from “Subtle As A Flying Mallet,” 1975. Also out of print and not available digitally.


Speaking of shots …

As you the blow the fireworks, be sure to …

“Pop That Thang,” the Isley Brothers, from “Brother, Brother, Brother,” 1972.


And as you reflect on it all …

“People Got To Be Free,” Dionne Warwick, from “Soulful,” 1969. Available on “Soulful Plus,” a 2004 limited-edition release from Rhino Handmade, and digitally.


Yes, people still got to be free, even today.

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Filed under July 2011, Sounds

Thundersnow and lightning licks

Earlier today, we had the second outbreak of thundersnow in our corner of Wisconsin this year. Thundersnow is exactly what it sounds like — thunder and lightning during a snowstorm.

It was just another surreal aspect of what was kind of a weird day.

I wonder what Bill Kirchen thought about it all.

“The Titan of the Telecaster” was in town, wrapping up a three-night stand in our local casino lounge, sharing a bunch of fine, good-humored country, rock and rockabilly tunes and showing off some mad guitar skills.

But I think Bill Kirchen can handle weird. After all, he went to high school with Iggy Pop. And he was part of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen from the late ’60s to the mid-’70s.

Kirchen played a bunch of his own fine material before ever getting to any Commander Cody stuff. There were some nice tunes off his most recent CD — “Word To The Wise,” on Proper American Records — but he had none to sell us. The shipment hadn’t arrived.

(On that CD, you’ll hear Kirchen with Elvis Costello on the hard-edged “Man In the Bottom of the Well” and with his old friend George Frayne, the Commander himself, on the rowdy “I Don’t Work That Cheap.” Other guests include old friends Dan Hicks, Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe and Maria Muldaur.)

I usually don’t read up on acts I haven’t seen. I like to be surprised. So it was when Kirchen tore into “Hot Rod Lincoln” as the final number. He turned it into an extended jam in which that Lincoln was passed by cars driven by about two dozen guitar players. In so doing, Kirchen showed those mad guitar skills by offering a signature riff each time. Turns out it’s a staple of Kirchen’s shows. I could list them all, but listen to Kirchen channel them instead.

“Hot Rod Lincoln,” Bill Kirchen, from “Hot Rod Lincoln Live,” 1997.


Hearing all those guitar styles crammed into one song reminded me of something I heard on that same casino lounge stage two years ago.

In that show, Chris Spedding did “Guitar Jamboree,” showing off his considerable skills by playing “a few flash guitar solos” in the style of almost a dozen different guitarists.

“Guitar Jamboree,” Chris Spedding, from “Ready Spedding Go,” 1984. That LP is out of print. The song originally was released in the UK on “Chris Spedding,” 1975. It’s also available on “The Very Best of Chris Spedding,” a 2007 import.


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Filed under April 2011, Sounds